POKER ON SCREEN: HIGH STAKES POKER
BY Paul Seaton
Whenever a friend of yours asks them which poker show they should watch having never seen it, which one do you say? If you’re from Europe, the answer is often ‘Late night Poker’, and we totally get why that’s the case. However, if you’re from America, then the answer is almost exclusively a different three-word show that brought the action of our favourite card game to screen in spectacular style.
The world over, High Stakes Poker is an amazing way of introducing anybody to the game of poker.
Packed with the biggest names, High Stakes Poker was a smash hit from the very first episode, which featured players such as Canadian superstar Daniel Negreanu and WSOP legend Phil Hellmuth.
It wasn’t only the players that attracted fans back week after week as they pored over the rich and poker-famous as they tossed in bricks of dollar bills that made it seem so glamourous. The commentary team of A.J. Benza and Gabe Kaplan is one that has already been called for by those fans who are celebrating this week’s announcement by Poker Central that High Stakes Poker is back.
Let’s face it, with these guys calling the action, they could have invited first-time players taking each other on for pennies and it would have been entertaining as hell.
High Stakes Poker was a hugely significant show, letting daylight in upon the magic of players sitting down with a minimum of $100,000 at risk and sometimes a million dollars on the line in one night. In the days before the nosebleed stakes that are routinely played now in recent TV hit shows like Rob’s Home Game and those from the last decade such as The Big Game, High Stakes Poker was the go-to goodness that no-one could resist. With old dogs like Doyle Brunson trying to teach new pups like Tom Dwan exactly how the game worked with huge money on the line, the lessons were handed between all the players at some point.
Daniel Negreanu was Kid Poker, with longer blonder hair than he has right now. Phil Hellmuth looks very similar back then to how he does now and dressed in black and gold often. Doyle was the man in the hat, the living legend that is Texas Dolly. With some of the best players ever to have played the game gracing the series, luminaries such as Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen and Mike Matusow all took to the felt.
Without High Stakes Poker, plenty of televised poker would look very different. It raised the stakes in every way and it looked the part the whole game. The set alone was clearly representative of the money being splashed about, and the show was all the better for it. These days, the look is neon, black backdrops and TV screens distracting the viewer by promoting the very brand that fans are watching coverage. Moving advertisements, and not fun ones. High Stakes Poker didn’t need to promote any brand and it was a greater show to watch down to the se classy touches.
If you haven’t seen it, then start doing so right way. If you have already then get excited – because High Stakes Poker is coming back in the next few months according to Poker Central. We can’t wait.